Artist Profile: Cornelia Parker

1 June 2017

For some years Cornelia Parker’s work has been concerned with formalising things beyond our control, containing the volatile and making it into something that is quiet and contemplative like the ‘eye of the storm’.

She is fascinated with processes in the world that mimic cartoon ‘deaths’ – steamrollering, shooting full of holes, falling from cliffs and explosions. Through a combination of visual and verbal allusions her work triggers cultural metaphors and personal associations, which allow the viewer to witness the transformation of the most ordinary objects into something compelling and extraordinary.

Her installation, Neither From Nor Towards, 1992, features bricks from a row of houses that fell off the white cliffs of Dover. Found by the artist on a remote shoreline between Folkestone and Dover, the bricks have been shaped by the crashing waves over many years. Parker was fascinated by the drama, describing the process as a 'perfect cartoon death'. She suspended the bricks on wires from the gallery ceiling to form a house shape. It is difficult to tell if the artist has represented the house mid-fall, or if she has undertaken a process of resurrection.

Violent incidents lie at the heart of Cornelia Parker's work. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1997 on the strength of installations such as 'Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View', 1991, which involved the suspension of charred remnants of a garden shed that had been blown up, at her request, by the army. Unlike 'Cold Dark Matter', however, the bricks that make up 'Neither From Nor Towards' have been shaped over years, not seconds.

Neither From Nor Towards can be seen as part of Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s latest National Partnership Programme exhibition, Re[construct], until 25 June 2017.

Re[construct] questions our understanding of architecture, exploring ways in which artists have utilised materials in order to investigate and manipulate our experience of space. 




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